Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Forum for discussion of East Asian Buddhism. Questions specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
User avatar
Oceano
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:01 pm

Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Oceano » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:44 am

Hi

I wasn't sure whether to post here or over on the Pure Land thread,

Sometimes it's hard to tell. As it developed, East Asian Buddhism seemed like the most logical place for it, since it crosses sectarian lines but the sects all developed in that area. I have moved it to the more appropriate forum and split an off-topic discussion off to Open Dharma. - Kim

but here goes ...

I've often wondered why a form of lay Buddhism hasn't emerged that seeks to blend Pure Land with the Lotus Sutra. There's an old saying - the origin of which I can't recall - that "one recites the Lotus Sutra in the morning and the Nembutsu in the evening" - that, to me, perfectly encapsulates the potential for such a practice. The Lotus Sutra is world-embracing, "extroverted" and powerfully directed towards Buddha-nature in this life. The Pure Land Sutras can provide peace and assurance about Amida Buddha's unlimited compassion, which in many ways is a perfect end to the day. Depending on the situation, both the Lotus Sutra and Amida Buddha's grace provide beautiful paths of either strength or peace as we go about our days. I know I'm stumbling into deeply historical and bitterly contested territory here. I don't know much about Rissho Kosei-Kai but they perhaps come close to what I'm alluding to. Has anyone else had similar thoughts? I'm really not trying tell anyone that either Nichiren or Honen / Shinran are right or wrong - part of my reflection here is that, somewhat heretically, I actually really enjoy both Japanese Pure Land and Nichiren traditions. In a way it's a shame that we're still living these divisions, and I see a lot of potential in this life for a type of "ekayana" Buddhism led by lay people, focused on the problems of daily life and yet open enough to the "ineffable" beyond this life.

First post so go easy!

Cheers
Oceano

Bakmoon
Posts: 746
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:31 am

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Bakmoon » Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:40 am

Oceano wrote:Hi

I wasn't sure whether to post here or over on the Pure Land thread, but here goes ...

I've often wondered why a form of lay Buddhism hasn't emerged that seeks to blend Pure Land with the Lotus Sutra. There's an old saying - the origin of which I can't recall - that "one recites the Lotus Sutra in the morning and the Nembutsu in the evening" - that, to me, perfectly encapsulates the potential for such a practice. The Lotus Sutra is world-embracing, "extroverted" and powerfully directed towards Buddha-nature in this life. The Pure Land Sutras can provide peace and assurance about Amida Buddha's unlimited compassion, which in many ways is a perfect end to the day. Depending on the situation, both the Lotus Sutra and Amida Buddha's grace provide beautiful paths of either strength or peace as we go about our days. I know I'm stumbling into deeply historical and bitterly contested territory here. I don't know much about Rissho Kosei-Kai but they perhaps come close to what I'm alluding to. Has anyone else had similar thoughts? I'm really not trying tell anyone that either Nichiren or Honen / Shinran are right or wrong - part of my reflection here is that, somewhat heretically, I actually really enjoy both Japanese Pure Land and Nichiren traditions. In a way it's a shame that we're still living these divisions, and I see a lot of potential in this life for a type of "ekayana" Buddhism led by lay people, focused on the problems of daily life and yet open enough to the "ineffable" beyond this life.

First post so go easy!


Cheers
Oceano
:popcorn:

markatex
Posts: 328
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:33 am

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by markatex » Sat Aug 22, 2015 4:23 am

Tendai Buddhism is more along the lines of what you're proposing. I don't think this thread needs to take an antagonistic turn, but according to Nichiren, the practice of chanting the daimoku subsumes all other practices, including the Pure Land ones.

User avatar
Oceano
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:01 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Oceano » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:17 am

markatex wrote:Tendai Buddhism is more along the lines of what you're proposing. I don't think this thread needs to take an antagonistic turn, but according to Nichiren, the practice of chanting the daimoku subsumes all other practices, including the Pure Land ones.
Thank you, markatex. I think I was aware of that in Tendai and am also curious about the more recent, non-monastic, groups. That may also be why the Daimoku plays a lesser role in the practice of a group like Rissho Kosei-Kai, where Lotus Sutra recitation is more prominent and the Nembutsu is sometimes presented as another, no lesser, form of "sammai practice".

I'm very conscious that I've posted in a Nichiren space (and many would say RKK isn't really Nichiren). Pure Land and Nichiren are, basically, historically existentially antithetical and probably remain so, but I really don't want to offend anybody. Might have been better for me to have posted this under "Mahayana" or "East Asian" in general :)

Cheers
Oceano

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1445
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by rory » Sun Aug 23, 2015 5:08 am

I don't have a problem with it Oceano. At the Tendai betsuin we did chant from the Lotus Sutra in the morning and from Pure Land in the evening. That's the norm and you can be a lay member, there's no necessity for tonsure.

In my case I gave up Pure Land after I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amitabha preaches the Lotus Sutra in the Western Pure Land. In Nichiren's day a number of Pure Land people gave up hope and some committed suicide to just leave Samsara, so you can see why he was so against it, whereas his practice is rooted in this life and changing it.

Nichiren also wrote that practitioners on dying would go to the pure land of tranquil light: that's the sangha on Sacred Vulture Peak where the Buddha is preaching the Dharma.

Rissho is a new religion so it's definitely more a Lotus Sutra sect. Rissho has a close relationship with Tendai
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Oceano
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:01 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Oceano » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:33 am

rory wrote:I don't have a problem with it Oceano. At the Tendai betsuin we did chant from the Lotus Sutra in the morning and from Pure Land in the evening. That's the norm and you can be a lay member, there's no necessity for tonsure.

In my case I gave up Pure Land after I read in the Lotus Sutra that Amitabha preaches the Lotus Sutra in the Western Pure Land. In Nichiren's day a number of Pure Land people gave up hope and some committed suicide to just leave Samsara, so you can see why he was so against it, whereas his practice is rooted in this life and changing it.

Nichiren also wrote that practitioners on dying would go to the pure land of tranquil light: that's the sangha on Sacred Vulture Peak where the Buddha is preaching the Dharma.

Rissho is a new religion so it's definitely more a Lotus Sutra sect. Rissho has a close relationship with Tendai
gassho
Rory
Thanks Rory! That's very interesting background.

Gassho
Oceano

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7041
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Astus » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:37 am

As noted earlier, Tendai includes both the Lotus Sutra and Amitabha. Also, both Nichirenshu and Jodo (Shin) Shu are explicitly exclusivist sects, while schools preceding them were generally inclusivists. And once you move from Japanese Buddhism you can find that such strict separations between schools don't actually exist. For instance, Chinese monastics recite mostly the same every morning and evening, regardless of what their preferences are in doctrine and practice. And that can be because the organising factor in Buddhism is primarily the Vinaya, and it is only secondary whether you prefer reciting a specific sutra, or a name of a buddha, or maybe neither.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 6153
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:40 pm

In Nichiren's perspective, if you are born in this world, you have a karmic relationship with Shakyamuni Buddha.

The Pure Land Buddhism Nichiren confronted was primarily Honen's teaching of exclusive reliance on Amitabha/Amitayus Buddha. Amitabha/Amitayus in Nichiren's view does not have a close karmic relationship with the people of this world. Honen's position did not necessarily conflict with this view, but he believed that the people who appear now in the final Degenerate Age of Shakyamuni's Dharma do not have a karmic relationship Shakyamuni and therefore his teachings are not effective.

The conflict between their positions is that they are talking about different aspects of Shakyamuni Buddha. Honen is talking about the Shakyamuni who was born in Lumbini, awakened near Gaya, turned the wheel at Sarnath, and finally unbound at Kusinagara. Nichiren however is referring to the Shakyamuni who revealed that the teachings he related for the first 40 years after his awakening at Gaya were expedients and that his true identity is the Eternal Triple Bodied Buddha who awakened in the inconceivable (beginningless) past, who is constantly in this world guiding and teaching beings, even if his true identity is hidden - ie. Shakyamuni Buddha's karmic relationship with all beings is constant. The teachings of this Shakyamuni Buddha in full is the Lotus Sutra which he has always practiced and taught and which hase no expiration. Amitabha/Amitayus, along with all the Buddhas of the Ten Directions, Past, Present and Future, along with their Pure Lands, are all revealed to be expediently conjured devices of this Shakyamuni Buddha.

Anything other than practice directed to Shakaymuni Buddha and immediate endeavor in this world, at this moment, is therefore pointless at best and compounding delusion and suffering at worst. Why aspire for a future birth revealed to be an expedient apparition?

The difference between Nichiren and Tendai in a broad sense is that Tendai recognizes that expedients are efficacious in their proper circumstances; Nichiren cuts pretenses and insists that once expedients are revealed to be expedients, why bother? One ought to proceed straight to the goal.

Anyway, that's the theoretical reason for rejection of Pure Land in Nichiren's view and why it is incompatible with Nichiren Buddhism.

In practicality, Nichiren not only asserted that all Buddhist teachings are subsumed into the practice of the Lotus Sutra, but he actually incorporated Pure Land teachings substituting the Ceremony in the Air for Sukhavati and the promise that the Buddhas of the Ten Directions would greet the devotee of the Lotus Sutra on their death and escort them to the Ceremony in the Air for Amida's Raigo.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 6153
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:51 pm

I have no practical experience with Tendai Buddhism, but I have studied Tientai/Tendai a little.

For Zhiyi, Pure Land practice is one of several types of Preliminary Practices. You have to understand what this means in his scheme, but basically, its what you do to prepare yourself for the actual practice of the Complete Path. According to his scribe, Zhiyi considered that he was still only at the stage of Preliminary Practices.

For Zhiyi, Pure Land practice is not limited to Amitabha/Amitayus oriented practices, although it figures prominently in his teachings on Preliminary Practices being incorporated into his Constantly Walking Samadhi.

As far as I can tell, how Pure Land figures in modern Tendai and Tientai Buddhism are complex stories with centuries of transactions figuring in the equation.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

User avatar
sth9784
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by sth9784 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:04 pm

Oceano wrote:Hi

I wasn't sure whether to post here or over on the Pure Land thread, but here goes ...

I've often wondered why a form of lay Buddhism hasn't emerged that seeks to blend Pure Land with the Lotus Sutra. There's an old saying - the origin of which I can't recall - that "one recites the Lotus Sutra in the morning and the Nembutsu in the evening" - that, to me, perfectly encapsulates the potential for such a practice. The Lotus Sutra is world-embracing, "extroverted" and powerfully directed towards Buddha-nature in this life. The Pure Land Sutras can provide peace and assurance about Amida Buddha's unlimited compassion, which in many ways is a perfect end to the day. Depending on the situation, both the Lotus Sutra and Amida Buddha's grace provide beautiful paths of either strength or peace as we go about our days. I know I'm stumbling into deeply historical and bitterly contested territory here. I don't know much about Rissho Kosei-Kai but they perhaps come close to what I'm alluding to. Has anyone else had similar thoughts? I'm really not trying tell anyone that either Nichiren or Honen / Shinran are right or wrong - part of my reflection here is that, somewhat heretically, I actually really enjoy both Japanese Pure Land and Nichiren traditions. In a way it's a shame that we're still living these divisions, and I see a lot of potential in this life for a type of "ekayana" Buddhism led by lay people, focused on the problems of daily life and yet open enough to the "ineffable" beyond this life.

First post so go easy!

Cheers
Oceano
You may want to check out the Ojoyoshu by Genshin. He was a Tendai monk, but also devoted to Pure Land practices. Unfortunately, I am unaware of an English translation, but BDK has selected the text to be translated, however I have no idea when it will be completed.
Crom!


DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 9349
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by DGA » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:34 pm

That's an excellent find, Seishin. I don't own a copy of the BDK version, but I understand it is out now--it's listed in the catalog, at least.

Meanwhile, Genshin's Tendai Hokke-shu Gishu, translated by Paul Groner as The Collected Teachings of the Tendai Lotus School, is remarkable in how it situates Pure Land practice in the context of Tendai doctrine overall.

User avatar
sth9784
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:57 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by sth9784 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:15 am

This is a nice link, but unfortunately it is only the first 3 of the 10 chapters, and does not go into detail about the various types of practice found in the later chapters, however, I think it is the only significant part of the text that has yet to be translated into English, excluding various excerpts found in the teachings of later Pure Land Masters.
Crom!

dsaly1969
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:19 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by dsaly1969 » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:07 pm

I would agree that RKK is closer in outlook to Tendai. I have never seen RKK discuss nembutsu at all (not that they would be vitriolic about it anyways due to their Ekayana stance) and there may be RKK members who are dually affiliated with a Shin temple or something. BTW, while RKK does not practice daimoku marathons like SGI, RKK members chant Daimoku twice daily along with portions of the Lotus Sutra (their daily liturgy is called Kyoten - Sutra Readings) so daimoku and "gongyo" are still central to RKK practice.

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 9349
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by DGA » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:53 pm

I've come to the conclusion that it's extraordinarily difficult, perhaps impossible, to come to any kind of definitive conclusion on what Tendai Daishi (Zhiyi) has to say strictly from reading the texts. The Tibetans call some texts "self-secret," which means that these texts don't reveal their meaning except in appropriate circumstances for students who are properly prepared &c. I don't know if Tendai Daishi's writings are self secret per se, but they are extraordinarily opaque, fluid, evocative, and in important ways impossible to make definitive claims about in the absence of a traditional context to rely on.

What did Zhiyi actually think about all this? For me, the final answer is: I don't know, ask your teacher.

Different traditions have different approaches to all this. Of course, for the purpose of this sub-forum, Nichiren's reading of Zhiyi would be definitive, so the authority to rely on in this discussion wouldn't be Zhiyi's texts, it would be Nichiren's.

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1445
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by rory » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:12 pm

Oceano; back then I too, along with my friends, was very interested in Pure Land meditation techniques but there no Pure Land masters at the Betsuin and frankly I don't know what is done. I did do some circumambulating with a mudra and visualization, but that was Kannon. I do know there is a young Tendai priest Rev. Jikan Dehn of Australia he's in Japan now training who specializes in Pure Land, why not write to him. Perhaps he will visit some pure land masters and tell you about the techniques.

As far as Jodo Shu all i could ever find was looking at the sunset...meh.

As for Nichiren sects and Tendai; my sect and Nichiren Shu used to be merged so I'd say we're more Lotus Sutra focused: the weekly Dharma talk is always from the Lotus Sutra. We do a visualization along with Daimoku and practices such as Shikan and samatha are fine.

As for the Tibetan: "you need a master" well they deal exclusively with esoteric material and you'll get the same answer in Tendai: you need tonsure and to be physically there for esoteric teachings. Really the Lotus Sutra is the most clear text imaginable filled with parables easy to understand. Read it for yourself! TB's don't read sutras, they stick to commentaries. I like Nichiren Buddhism specifically as there is no guru worship involved; go directly to the Sutra and you can read Nichiren's letters written to his followers - which are clear. He dealt with people living in the real world: with real world issues.
gassho
Rory
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 9349
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by DGA » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:24 pm

rory wrote:Oceano; back then I too, along with my friends, was very interested in Pure Land meditation techniques but there no Pure Land masters at the Betsuin and frankly I don't know what is done. I did do some circumambulating with a mudra and visualization, but that was Kannon. I do know there is a young Tendai priest Rev. Jikan Dehn of Australia he's in Japan now training who specializes in Pure Land, why not write to him. Perhaps he will visit some pure land masters and tell you about the techniques.

As far as Jodo Shu all i could ever find was looking at the sunset...meh.

As for Nichiren sects and Tendai; my sect and Nichiren Shu used to be merged so I'd say we're more Lotus Sutra focused: the weekly Dharma talk is always from the Lotus Sutra. We do a visualization along with Daimoku and practices such as Shikan and samatha are fine.

As for the Tibetan: "you need a master" well they deal exclusively with esoteric material and you'll get the same answer in Tendai: you need tonsure and to be physically there for esoteric teachings. Really the Lotus Sutra is the most clear text imaginable filled with parables easy to understand. Read it for yourself! TB's don't read sutras, they stick to commentaries. I like Nichiren Buddhism specifically as there is no guru worship involved; go directly to the Sutra and you can read Nichiren's letters written to his followers - which are clear. He dealt with people living in the real world: with real world issues.
gassho
Rory
Hi rory,

I get the feeling you're trying to rebut my last post in this thread, but I really don't see the connection there. My claim was that Tendai Daishi's writings in important passages are so indeterminate, so rich with multiple and even contradictory readings, that they don't fall into coherence without the help of a teacher. Further, I pointed out for the purpose of this discussion, the authoritative reading of Zhiyi is surely that of Nichiren, meaning that the discussion on Zhiyi may be an unnecessary detour for this conversation. What did Nichiren have to say about Pure Land practice? Isn't that enough for a Nichiren practitioner?

I didn't say anything about the Lotus Sutra. Nor did I say anything about "tonsure," nor anything about esoteric practice. The only reference to Tibetan Buddhism I made was to borrow one of their phrases, which I thought might be helpful in explaining a different concept. I regret giving you another opportunity to air your antagonism toward cultures and practices that must do not merit enough of your time and energy for you to learn even a little bit about, or to treat with basic courtesy, before hamhandedly dismissing them.

So maybe I'm mistaken in thinking you were rebutting my post, and if so, I apologize for wasting your time. It seems that your remarks have little to do with mine, now that I think of it.

User avatar
rory
Posts: 1445
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Location: SouthEast USA

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by rory » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:16 am

Jikan; when you see "Oceano" on the top of the my post what did you think that meant?

I'm trying to explain the different cultures of esoteric sects like TB and Tendai vs Pure Land and Nichiren sects. Perhaps she/he will embrace the close guru disciple relationship, which also requires being physically present. in my case I was unprepared for it and disliked it. I'm actually trying to be helpful and relate what to expect.

Feel free to add anything about your Tendai experiences, there are lots of priests here talk about it!
gassho
Rory
PS: I have no problem dismissing cultures. I'm not following the Dharma because I love Nepali, Chinese, Korean, Japanese culture etc...it means very little to me. I'd chant in Esperanto if that's what my sect did.
Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu
Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
https://www.tendai-usa.org/

User avatar
Queequeg
Global Moderator
Posts: 6153
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Queequeg » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:48 pm

DGA wrote: I don't know if Tendai Daishi's writings are self secret per se, but they are extraordinarily opaque, fluid, evocative, and in important ways impossible to make definitive claims about in the absence of a traditional context to rely on.
I wouldn't put it like that. My sense and I could be wrong, is that adaptability is intrinsic to the inclusive threefold truth logic Zhiyi taught, which is arguably based on the concept of Upaya as related in the Lotus specifically. Once you take that as the guiding perspective, the acceptability of various practices in proper context makes complete and clear sense. Zhiyi is pretty straight forward in acknowledging that the various teachings are to be understood as upaya. He also taught how the various teachings ought to be ranked in terms of ultimate significance.

What did Zhiyi actually think about all this? For me, the final answer is: I don't know, ask your teacher.
Maybe. And maybe your teacher can only show what they found. If that's the final answer, it might be limiting.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

I think each human being has things to find out in his own life that are inescapable. They’ll find them out the easy way or the hard way, or whatever.
-Jerry Garcia

User avatar
Seishin
Former staff member
Posts: 1838
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am
Contact:

Re: Pure Land and the Lotus Sutra

Post by Seishin » Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:53 pm

Regarding Nembutsu practice in Tendai:

"The Five-fold transmissions of the Nembutsu (Gojū-sōden)
The third patriarch, or Zasu of Mt. Hiei was Ennin Jikakudaishi (794-864). In 848 he returned
after a ten-year sojourn from Wu-t’ai-shan in China with a special Nembutsu Recitation. He
wrote in his Sanmondoshaki that monks should constantly chant the Nembutsu. This tradition
was transmitted by the 18th abbot Jōjun of the Tendai temple Senzō-ji, Inzai city, Chiba prefecture
in 1691. At this temple there is a stūpa (Kuyōtō) which commemorates the completion of the
constant recitation of Nembutsu for over two thousands days by a 19th abbot. Also a wood-block
print which depicts the Fivefold Transmission of Tendai Nembutsu. This practice continued up
until 1932 when my grandfather Shinnō was a head priest of Senzo-ji. In the Eshin school, the
text of Nenbutsu reads as follows:
Gojū-Nembutsu-Kanjō-no-Daiji:
The first Nembutsu is devoted to resolving to attain supreme enlightenment. “I wish to take
refuge at the feet of Buddha, take refuge to the Dharma free from desire, and take refuge in the
Sangha.” The Mantra says “************************** (I devote myself to generating supreme
enlightenment).”
The second type of Nembutsu is the sudden and perfect Nembutsu for the wonderful Three Pure
Precepts. “Namu Amidabutsu (I devote myself to Amida Buddha).” I say those who recite this
Nembutsu with a profound mind and those who practice the pure precepts will attain the Buddha
path into the next world. The first letter in the word AMIDA (Japanese for Amitābha) which
consist of the three Japanese characters A, Mi, and Da. The letter ‘A’, is interpreted as emptiness
(Kū). One who keeps the precepts which encourage good deeds will obtain the benefit of the
Sambhogakāya, the reward body of the tathāgata (Shōzenbokai one of the three Mahāyāna
precepts). The character ‘Mi’ is identical to conventional truth (Ke). One who keeps the precepts
which encourage activities benefitting others will obtain the Nirmānakāya, which is the body of
a tathāgata who actualizes perfect enlightenment in this world (Nyōyaku-ujōkai). The character
‘Da’ is translated as to the Middle way (Chū). One who keeps the precepts by not indulging in
evil deeds, such as murder, theft, pride, anger, and so forth, will obtain the Dharmakāya
(Shōritsugikai). The voice reciting the Nembutsu holds the virtue of the five precepts within
them. Therefore, every moment of recitation of the name of Amida is equivalent to the three types
of “pure precepts in the Mahāyāna precepts” mentioned above. The Third is the Lotus Nembutsu.
The mantra is chanted as “*********************************** (I devote myself to discerning Buddha’s Marvelous Dharma from the bottom of my
heart). Thus I practice the Buddha Dharma in this world. When I complete my life I am sure to
be reborn into the peaceful realm of Amitābha Buddha surrounded by great bodhisattvas seated
on lotus petals.” A Pure Land patriarch once said that the world of peace is the transformation of
illusion in which the mind attains the Amitābha’s pure land. Thus, one can calmly enter into the
marvelous Dharma Gate of the Lotus. The fourth is the Secret Nembutsu. The mantra is chanted
as “************************ (I devote myself to the deity of nectar who pours forth eternal life).”
Amitābha in the West is gold in color and embodies the wind chakra. The Mahāvairocana Sūtra
tells us life is wind and the Samyukta says the fundamental body is vajra. The Sanskrit bīja
character for Amitābha is hrīḥ. ‘H’ in hrīḥ stands for hetu in Sanskrit, or cause in unobtainable
karma. ‘R’ is for rajas in Sanskrit, or unobtainable illusions. ‘I’ for īti in Sanskrit, or
unobtainable adversity. ‘Aḥ’ for astaṃgamana in Sanskrit, or unobtainable means of being free
from disaster. What we call unobtainable means to be free from disaster and be free from greed,
hatred, and ignorance. Thereby you can enter into the perfect cessation nirvāṇa. When the wind
of the Sanskrit symbolic letter [hrīḥ] for Amitābha blows, then clouds are cleared away and
Amitābha Buddha will appear. 
The Fifth is the Nembutsu to welcome one into the pure land. Namu amida butsu. The name
indicates the svabhāva nature of Amitābha Buddha. The sūtra advises us that if you want to be
reborn in Buddha’s pure land you should constantly recite his name: Namu Amida Butsu. A
patriarch says that if a man recites the name of the Buddha of the West a single time, he or she is
sure to reborn into the lotus world. He will always stay there, never retrogressing. A lotus flower
seat will be waiting to welcome him or her into the Pure Land. Everyone should make a wish to
be reborn into the world of peace. Let us together meet in the land of Amitābha Buddh.
 The noble honorific name (Seiyo or Purified Honor) is granted to the person who has
completed the Gojū-sōden ritual ceremony at Senzōji Temple: Gondaisōzu Ryōkei of Tenryūzan
Senzōji. October in 1855.
That completes the description of the text. The oral transmission ceremony was performed in
the late Edo Period up until 1932 at the Tendai temple Senzoji."

Taken from "The First Mahayana Precepts Platform at Mt Hiei" 40th Anniversary of Tendai Overseas, By Shoshin Ichishima

I have removed the mantras because I'm unsure whether they are aloud to be shared. Once I find out, I can reinstate them.

From what I understand with regards to the Nembutsu practice in Tendai, is that there are a variety of practices that are associated with various schools within Tendai. The above is just one such practice.

In gassho,
Seishin

Post Reply

Return to “East Asian Buddhism”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: markatex and 11 guests